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Light-weight, light-feel 88 controller quest

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  • #16
    A friend brought over his M-Audio Prokeys88 Sono the other day and I was pleasantly surprised. The action was light and comfortable but not flimsy like some previous M-audios I've played. It has a built in ProTools-compatible audio interface, a nice Steinway piano sample, and it's very lightweight. He bought it for around $350 which seemed really good for the price. Has a GM soundset too. Dollar for dollar it blows that CDP-100 out of the water.

    A wise man knows the difference between opera and barbeque...


    • #17
      Dollar for dollar it blows that CDP-100 out of the water.

      It is not a hammer-weighted action, though, which I think doesn't make it quite comparable... though it may still serves someone's purpose just fine...


      • #18
        M-Audio Prokeys88 Sono... The action was light and comfortable

        Oh god. I found the M-audio "semi-weighted" a nightmare. It's just a really, really heavy spring action that relentlessly pushes against your fingers. There's no "give" anywhere like the way a good weighted action doesn't push hard against your fingers on key release. The M-audio heavy spring is tiring to play for an entire gig, and just slows down your playing. If you want to feel a playable, synth action, check out the Roland VR700.

        And those black keys are short, and so unforgiveably shallow. You have to hit spot on the very end of the key to get a decent velocity out of it. (Otherwise your playing sounds even, as the white keys generate higher velocity given the same force). You know those video games at the mall where you have an electronic "pistol", and you shoot at targets, and get a point only if you hit the target dead-on? That's what playing those black keys is like.


        • #19
          Yup, as I said, the CDP-100 is only slightly better than the PS-130/PX-330... it's just enough for me to cross the threshold from frustrating to playable. As I mentioned, some older Casios were better, but you won't find them in any stores to try anymore.

          If you fine the P95 action as good as the RD300sx, but no better, there is something to be said for the fact that the P95 is almost 8 pounds lighter, if your main goal were simply to reduce weight.

          I also think you might really want to look at the MOX8. It's got the same action as the P95, it's still a bit lighter than your RD300sx (almost 2 lbs), and in terms of the other MIDI control features you like in the Roland (and its use as a backup board with high quality sounds), I'm pretty sure that the MOX8 would be far more functional than the SX. As long as you like the action as much, there would seem to be all advantages and no disadvantages in making the change.

          I haven't played the Fantom G8, but yes, once you take weight out of the equation, Roland makes some terrific feeling actions. The FP-7F (which I think is the same keybed as the RD-700NX) is probably my favorite piano action of all. I like the Yamaha CP5 too. But you can't get these kinds of feels in a lightweight board, alas.

          I like the VR700 a lot. It is probably the best unweighted action for piano I ever played. The biggest problem with it is that it's bulky/heavy. It tops 35.3 pounds, but the ergonomics of it are such that it feels way heavier to move than the 32.6 pound MOX8, more than the difference in numbers imply.

          For organ playing, if I remember correctly, I didn't actually notice much difference between the VR700 and VK8 (preferring both of them to the feel of the Nords and Hammonds), but I never attempted to play piano from the VK8 board... and that's definitely surprisingly good on the VR700, which really is the effective replacement for the VK8.

          cool I just pulled the trigger on a VR700.
          "you mess with him and you mess with the whole trailer park"


          • #20
            So you read that as I did -- it uses the same TP/100LH keybed? And you found that keybed to be heavy like a yamaha or casio?

            Yeah, I think that's the only "low weight" weighted FATAR action there is, also used in the Nord Electro 3HP and the Kurzweil SP4-8. Based on the Nano I played, I would say it feels pretty similar to a Casio PX-130/PX-330.

            As for the heavier (non P-95) Yamaha keyboards we've been discussing... even though the P-155 for example feels heavy for my taste, and heavier than those Casios, I still find it more playable than those Casios. Though I still wouldn't choose one.

            If you ever happen to come across any of the older Casios, give them a shot. I think the actions in the PX-310 and PX-500L (at least) are better than any of the current Casio actions, and better than any current Yamaha actions short of the CP-5, and better than the Korg SP170. I also think they generally sound better than the PX-130/PX-330.


            • #21
              I thought that speed was identical over USB, fixed as part of the MIDI standard

              Oh god no. Data on the USB buss travels magnitudes faster than over a MIDI cable (ie, buss). USB MIDI uses only the software protocol of MIDI (albeit wrapped in a standard USB packet), not MIDI's hardware spec. USB MIDI offers significant speed advantages over MIDI (as does RTP -- Apple's version of MIDI software protocol over ethernet, and Open Sound Control's similiar scheme). In other words, the "speed" of MIDI data is entirely hardware dependent. Yes, the speed of MIDI is fixed... if you use that MIDI circuit on page 2 of the MIDI spec. But swap out that circuit for a faster buss (like USB or ethernet or thunderbolt or etc), and you've completely changed the speed of MIDI.

              Of course, using a box to convert a MIDI buss to a USB buss completely defeats that advantage, because you've still got data traveling at MIDI's speed (at some point). In fact, the conversion process adds extra delay, so it's even slower than a direct connection between MIDI OUT and MIDI IN jacks.


              • #22
                the Roland VR700 organ had a very pleasant unweighted action....Unfortunately, the VR700 is only 76 keys, a little cramped for a guy who plays left-hand bass lines.

                Actually, I don't have too much problem with a 76 for left hand bass, as long as it goes down to the low E (which the VR700 does). When I'm playing LH bass, I almost never need any note below that E (and the few times I might, I could work around it). So then, really, when I'm playing LH bass, the only difference between a VR700 style 76 and an 88 would be the 5 notes on top, G# through C. (Which is not to say that here aren't times those last few keys up there can could come in handy.)

                I mentioned keeping your eyes open for an opportunity to try some of the older Casios that I think feel better than today's. But also, since you're okay with unweighted actions on those rare occasions that they're not terrible for piano (like the VR700 or your ill-fated Studiologic), if you ever come across one, check out the Roland RS-9. I finally had a chance to play one. It's a very light board that's reasonably capable as a MIDI controller, and I think it is one of the best non-weighted actions I've found for piano. I'd still prefer something weighted, but I could definitely gig with the RS-9.


                • #23
                  check out the Roland RS-9

                  Too late. I just scored a used one on Ebay, and it should be arriving very soon. Apparently, these are popular. During the past month, 5 of them have come up on Ebay, and all 5 got snatched up within 24 hours of being listed. If someone wants a used Roland RS-9, he needs to jump on it immediately. These things sell fast.

                  Wish it had aftertouch and USB-MIDI.


                  • #24
                    Wish it had aftertouch and USB-MIDI.

                    Yeah, AT would have been great. Interesting, though, that it looks like it does let you assign AT (among other things) to the mod lever, a control knobs, or a foot pedal, and you can determine that on a patch-by-patch basis. It actually seems like a surprisingly capable piece as a 2-zone MIDI controller.